James has a progressive, terminal muscle disease called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. His physical strength will soon peak and his muscles will begin to break down and not repair. His parents want to give him every opportunity they can while his strength is high.
From the outside, James Banda looks like a typical five-year-old boy; full of energy and always on the move. And he loves all things outer space! James’ mom, Marylou, says that, “James loves to talk about space. At home he loves turning off the lights to use his solar system night light…, and dream lights dog that projects stars on the ceiling too. Space stuff intrigues him.”
But what you can’t see is that James has a progressive, terminal muscle disease called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. His physical strength will soon peak and his muscles will begin to break down and not repair. His parents want to give him every opportunity they can while his strength is high. They were thrilled to find out that James’ wish would be granted in just a few short months! He and his parents would be going to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Their journey began on World Wish Day, the anniversary of the first wish ever granted. A limo picked them up to take them to the airport. James was so excited and loved being able to move around and push all the buttons inside. When they arrived at the airport there were signs and banners to commemorate the day and send them off in style. They even had the chance to be interviewed for the newspaper and TV! After a long day of travel they were happy to arrive safely at The Resort on Cocoa Beach. It was beautiful.
After a good night’s sleep, the first stop was the Kennedy Space Center. James had a chance to see NASA Headquarters, rockets, rovers, pods, and probes and so much more! There was even an area just for kids! One of James’ favorite things was the life-size Angry Birds Space game! He wanted to do the mirror maze over and over and over again. They got to run through and try to avoid setting off lasers, collect eggs, and launch asteroids. It was a lot of fun. They even had a chance to eat lunch with Astronaut Mark Lee, and hear about his experiences. Mark is a veteran of four space missions aboard the space shuttles Atlantis, Endeavour, and Discovery. James asked all kinds of questions about outer space.
Now that he is home, James loves to pretend that they are going on rides. He and his mom like to make cut outs of their favorite characters and take them on “adventures” of their own. He is a very creative and imaginative boy! This was a week he will never forget! This may be the best week of James’ life! His dad, Santiago, said, “It’s difficult to express in words. But it means a lot. It really does. It works wonders, that’s for sure. There’s a lot of children who would love to experience something like this.”
Wishes like James’ would not be possible without the help of donations from people just like you. You can help through programs like Wishes in Flight. Donate airline miles to assist Make-A-Wish in bringing hope and joy to a child who needs it.
Read James' story in The Fresno Bee